Various Artists

Papa Nez: A Loose Salute to the Work of Michael Nesmith

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This 20-track CD doesn't have a weak moment on it, as 20 artists, ranging from Frog Holler (who turns in the most gloriously moody and reflective rendition of "Different Drum" you'll ever want to hear) to Flying Burrito Brothers/Kim Carnes alumnus John Beland (doing "Some of Shelly's Blues"), turn their talents toward the compositions of Michael Nesmith. Short of getting Nesmith himself into an MTV Unplugged-type setting, this is about as broad and genial a survey of the man's music as listeners are ever likely to see, filled with transcendent moments and delightful elements, such as Tom Gillam's slide guitar-ornamented version of "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" and the version of "Sweet Young Thing" done as a mix of country holler and Hindustani raga by Western Electric, interspersed with more traditional country-styled tracks such as Last Train Home's version of "Good Clean Fun," the Rust Kings' rough-hewn rendition of "Texas Morning," and the Heavy Blinkers' rustic yet ethereal interpretation of "Magic." The disc is a good split between the artists who find new or hidden elements in a song, and others, such as John Jorgenson on "You Just May Be the One," who emphasize the most appealing elements of the original in their own form. The whole disc is a treasure from beginning to end and a must-own item not only for Nesmith fans, but for anyone who ever listened up close and personal to the Monkees.

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